Tag Archives: freezing tomatoes

35 Pounds of Tomatoes

No, I didn’t grow that many in my garden.   I got a decent harvest this year to keep us in fresh tomatoes for the summer and early fall, but for stocking up for winter, I went to the local Farmers Market.   I bought the large, 10 lb box last week and processed those for the freezer, then decided I needed more.  Being the savvy consumer that I am, I realized I could get 2.5x as many tomatoes in the half bushel as in the large box for only 25% more.  That’s a screaming deal in my book,  and they were beautiful red, perfectly ripe roma tomatoes.  My first hint of how much work was ahead of me was when I picked up the bag they were in to carry them to the car.  A half bushel of tomatoes is really heavy-apparently about 25 lbs.

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Over two nights, I made 2 double batches of pasta sauce using America’s Test Kitchen’s (recipe here).  Instead of the canned crushed tomatoes, I used 3 cups of lightly pureed, peeled tomatoes.  I also found that the texture of the tomatoes was better when pureed in my food processor than in my blender.  As I’ve described before, peeling tomatoes is pretty easy, and I think necessary to have a more pleasing sauce texture.  (Just personal preference, but I’m not a fan of tough skins floating in my sauce, soups or stews.)

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While the tomatoes looked beautiful, my kitchen was a mess!

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Once I had the tomatoes peeled, I was ready to make the sauce and chop up the rest for a variety of uses.  I left most only roughly chopped to allow for more versatility.  I can further chop or puree the frozen tomatoes depending on what I need them for.

I’m pleased with the final number of bags, it didn’t seem like a lot at first, but I think this will last me quite a while.  The large bag of while tomatoes was turned into 4 more bags of pasta sauce the next evening.  I ran out of garlic so had to have time to run to the store.

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And what are tomatoes without some basil?

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So in the end, did it save me money over buying canned diced tomatoes and jarred pasta sauce?  Maybe, maybe not, but my tomatoes and sauce will definitely have a better, fresher taste, with only those ingredients in them I want.  I’m actually looking forward to winter cooking (but maybe not the weather).

Garden Swag

The other day I decided it was time to get the first of the ripe roma tomatoes packed up for winter.  One of my boys came out with me to help, and needless to say he was impressed with the haul we got. So, in teen-age terms, we had some “garden swag”. It was fun watching him search around for the ripe tomatoes, stumble upon a giant zucchini bat, and then realize that there was a whole pile of cucumbers hidden in the vines and tangled in the tomato plants.

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I didn’t really have enough roma tomatoes to bother getting my canning equipment out, so I decided to freeze them.  It’s really pretty simple and, as with most things, it’s best used for cooking since some of the texture will be lost during the freeze thaw process.  I looked around for instructions and settled on some great information from the UNL Extension and fellow blogger,  Tomato Dirt.

Here’s what I did…

Pick nice ripe tomatoes that are blemish-free.  Wash under running water and trim off the stem end.  I also made a small cut in the bottom to help later with peeling.  I had decided to freeze them peeled since the skins are just too tough in soups, etc.

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 To  easily peel tomatoes, place the washed, prepared tomatoes into boiling water for about 1 minute.  You’ll notice that the peels start to split.

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Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon.

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And plunge immediately into an ice-water bath for about a minute or so.  The skins will then pop right off. 

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Then, you can freeze them whole, or chop coarsely.  I chose to chop them.  In the process, I also took out many of the seeds, since it’s really the tomato “meat” that I want for winter cooking.  I packed the chopped tomatoes into freezer ziplock backs, squeezing as much air out of the bag as I can.  If you have a vacuum sealer, that’d be even better.  Off to the freezer they go.  They’ll be fine to use anytime this winter.  

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What are canning or freezing this year?